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SCIENCE SALON # 86
Michael Shermer with Neil deGrasse Tyson — Letters from an Astrophysicist
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has attracted one of the world’s largest online followings with his fascinating, widely accessible insights into science and our universe. Now, Tyson invites us to go behind the scenes of his public fame by revealing his correspondence with people across the globe who have sought him out in search of answers. In this hand-picked collection of 101 letters, Tyson draws upon cosmic perspectives to address a vast array of questions about science, faith, philosophy, life, and of course, Pluto. His succinct, opinionated, passionate, and often funny responses reflect his popularity and standing as a leading educator. Tyson’s 2017 bestseller Astrophysics for People in a Hurry offered more than one million readers an insightful and accessible understanding of the universe. Tyson’s most candid and heartfelt writing yet, Letters from an Astrophysicist introduces us to a newly personal dimension of Tyson’s quest to explore our place in the cosmos. Shermer and Tyson discuss:
- killing Pluto
- killing God
- science and religion
- why he takes a relatively conciliatory approach to religion
- why he takes a hard-line against science deniers in religion (and elsewhere)
- progress in science
- how vs. why questions
- race and racial progress
- why the arc of the moral universe still bends toward justice
- race and IQ and the curious letter he received about how to address this sensitive subject
- his middle name and why one correspondent objected to it
- Neil’s father and why he ends the book with a eulogy.